How to Write an Ebook – Choosing Your Topic

I try to be at least a little modest every now and then, but there are some topics I know pretty well, based pretty heavily on the experience I’ve racked up in recent years. One of those things is how to write an eBook, so I thought I’d bring that knowledge to bear here for a short course on how to do just that.

The next few parts in this series will cover exactly how to brainstorm, outline, and write an eBook that can be sold as an informational product or used to promote something else you’re trying to sell. Despite what some of my colleagues would say, I always like to think that the content comes first, so I take this process very seriously and alway pour a good bit of energy into creating well written, highly focused eBooks that are actually valuable to their readers. That’s what we’re going to work on.

As a note, this is a guide for those interested in informational eBooks for distribution on the Internet – not for digital novels or non-fiction books. However, most of the tips in these guides will probably work just as well for those types of books if that’s your goal.

For the first message, I thought I’d keep things pretty simple and focus on how you’re going to choose the topic for your eBook. It’s probably one of the hardest parts of the process and for many marketers, if it’s done poorly, it results in a whole lot of work for not much gain.

What Do You Know?

Simple question. Probably lots of answers too. The first thing you should ask yourself is what you know about. If that fails, what are you willing to learn about. This has less to do with your innate knowledge (because god knows that research on the Internet is easier than ever) and more to do with your interest level and motivation. If you choose a topic you know nothing about, the odds are that you don’t care all that much about the niche in the first place. That may not be true, but it tends to hold course for most topics.

On the other hand, if you choose a topic that you know a LOT about, even if you don’t like that niche, the writing process should be smooth. You won’t need to rely on research alone to make it happen. Plus, when you’re an expert in a field, it tends to be much easier to find a unique angle from which to write the book – when you can tap into that unique angle, you will save a tremendous amount of time and energy and probably capture more attention.

What’s the Book For?

Before you can go any further, you need to know what the book is for. Are you selling it? Are you giving it away? Are you writing for the sake of writing? It doesn’t really matter what your purpose is in terms of how you write it, but when it comes to selling it, you had better be sure that the topic you’ve chosen is going to be marketable.

Can You Sell It?

This is the biggie. Can your topic be sold. I refuse to tell anyone that an idea cannot be sold, but I will sometimes hold my tongue as I wonder just how it is going to be done. The key here is to know exactly what kind of market you have. Are there people out there buying guides like yours already and if so, how many of them are there. How many people are in your niche and what kind of opportunities are there for growth?

An easy way to do some quick research, if you plan to sell your guide, is to look on Clickbank’s Marketplace. Here, you’ll find many of the top selling eBooks on the Internet. The higher the gravity, the more people are selling that book and the larger its niche probably is. I don’t recommend copying anything out right – but you may as well see how your niche is represented.

clickbankmarketplace

The Clickbank Marketplace

Case in point – I had a client who wanted a new guide written about how to create your own energy, like all the big Energy4Earth style guides out there right now. They asked whether I thought the guide would sell or not. I said, sure thing, but you’d better market it well because competition is fierce right now. I recommended a similar guide, but one that focused more on how to make a house’s existing systems more energy efficient. There were a couple of guides like that but none of them were all that good. Turns out, he did fantastic with that topic, just by finding a slightly different angle than what everyone else was using.

He still got the niche he enjoyed working in, but he managed to get a guide that stuck its landing well within a hungry niche that was interested in what had to be said.

A Short List of Topics

That’s about as far as I can take you in specifically getting you a topic for you book, but just to get you a head start, here is a list of popular niches that tend to remain popular regardless of things like the economy or the time of year. If you write a book that is different and interesting in one of these niches, you stand a good chance of creating something profitable:

(note: Click on any keyword below to do a Google search for it)

This is by no means a complete list, but it can help you get started with your new eBook if you’re looking for ideas.

Some Websites to Check Out

Want to do a little more research on your own while you’re at it? Here is a list of websites I use for niche research when I need new ideas to get an eBook started:

  • EzineArticles.com – A huge article directory filled with topics and content that you can start brainstorming with.
  • Amazon.com – The world’s largest online store. Use Amazon to see what people are buying and what you might be able to help them with.
  • WordTracker.com – A paid keyword research tool that helps you look up related topics to your niche. Make sure to sign up for the free trial first.
  • Google Keywords Tool – Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool. This is completely free but doesn’t offer quite as much info as the paid ones. It can be very helpful for basic research though.
  • SpyFu.com – Provides details about current ads for a given keyword. Lets you see how competitive your niche might be with costs per click, recent data, and more.
  • Quantcast.com – Demographic information for specific websites and keywords. See who is interested in which topics and how many of them are out there.
  • PayDotCom.com – Information publishing and payment service like Clickbank. Look through their marketplace for ideas.
  • Clickbank.com – As mentioned above, a great tool to help research what is hot right now and what topics you can get in on or find new angles to work with.

This is just a smattering of tools out there. You can also look on blogs, research local news and headlines, read up on the current trends on forums and much more. Don’t hold yourself back. Do your research and find ways to get the best topics out there.

Next Time

Hopefully this post has been helpful in preparing you for writing your eBook. Next time we’ll talk about how to outline your book before writing to minimize writer’s block and to be sure you don’t miss any important topics in the content.

About Anthony

Thanks for reading my blog! I've been in the digital marketing industry since graduating college in 2006 as a writer and strategist. I have an incredible family, a son with more energy than I can fathom, and an undying love for baseball and board games.

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One Response to How to Write an Ebook – Choosing Your Topic

  1. Rebecca October 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    The best advice is to write what you know. Become an expert or an authority on a particular topic. You’re probably passionate about something so write about it.

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